Hundreds of residents have been evacuated in southern Taiwan as Super Typhoon Meranti is expected to hit the area before making a landfall in China. With wind speeds of up to 230 miles per hour or 370 kilometers per hour and torrential rains, Super Typhoon Meranti is the strongest storm since the Super Typhoon Haiyan that wrecked several parts of the Philippines in 2013.
The monster typhoon is also the biggest one to close Taiwan since 1959. Around 1,500 people left the affected areas on Wednesday at 7 AM local time and schools and offices are now closed. Flights have also been cancelled.
Experts explain that Super Typhoon Meranti immediately transformed into a Category 5 storm, the highest level, from being a mere Category 1 storm. The storm’s severity quickly increased within only 24 hours, creating waves as tall as 14 meters and winds reaching up to 370 kilometers per hour.
It had been at that intensity for 18 hours, experts report on Tuesday morning. Phil Klotzbach, a weather expert at the Capital Weather Gang, says that Meranti is the third to accomplish that feat. The other two were Typhoon Tip and Typhoon Haiyan.
The super typhoon is also the strongest anywhere in the world in 2016. According to the forecast site Weather Underground, Meranti is among the deepest tropical cyclones that hit Earth since recording began.
It is the fourth Category 5 storm that occurred thus far this year. Experts estimate that there are between four and five Category 5 storms annually on the average.
Most scientists believe that the increase of these monster storms in the past years has most likely been caused by global warming.
Meranti is expected to make a landfall in China but Taiwan’s national weather forecasters believe that Super Typhoon Meranti’s severity will most likely go down to Category 1 or Category 2 when it hits Hong Kong.